Is it time to hire an architect and begin your next building project? If so, you will likely be asked to consider whether or not you need to form a building committee. Below are 5 tips for forming a building committee:
1. Do you need a building committee?
The first thing to consider when it comes to forming a building committee is if you even need to form a committee. Typically, these committees are formed in the context of church congregations. However, they can be helpful in many other organizations as well.
Here are a few questions you should ask regarding your organization and whether or not you should form a building committee:
- Is the program already defined?
- Can a staff member handle the increased responsibility required by the project?
- Is the overall master plan of your site determined?
- Is the proposed building small or standalone?
- Does the proposed building impact only one area of your ministry?
If the answer to any of the questions above is “no” then it may be wise to form a building committee.
2. Consider the purpose of the building committee.
There are essentially two types of building committees:
- The first is one that is formed to begin the planning process for a new facility.
- The second is a committee that is formed to manage the details and decisions during construction.
While there is some overlap between the skill sets needed for these two groups, the expertise of the groups will need to be catered to the tasks at hand.
In the first committee, you’ll want people who understand the visions and goals of your organization. They should also be able to craft a space that meets those needs. Can they see the big picture? Do they understand the details and the process?
The second committee will benefit from having individuals that understand the building process. You will need a group that can make quick decisions to address construction issues that inevitably arise on the project.
3. The committee needs to be big enough for a plurality of voices.
While the vision and program may be set by the Board of Directors or the staff ministry leadership, the implementation of that vision will start with the committee. Having a group that understands that vision will go a long way in making the design process as smooth as possible.
For example, it would be beneficial to include a staff person or volunteer from the ministry area most impacted by the new facility (i.e. the children’s minister serving on a committee for a new children’s building). It could also be helpful to have a board member involved.
Having a few people from the congregation and engaging other stakeholders through surveys or focus groups (as appropriate) can help those who are a part of your organization feel like they are part of the process.
4. The committee needs to be small enough to be efficient.
With any committee, there is a tipping point when there are too many people involved to make an efficient decision. While the ideal size will vary depending on your organization, typically 5-8 people is the maximum you want on the committee.
If additional voices are needed for certain decisions, consider involving your Board of Directors or hosting one-off focus groups. The smaller committee can then take the additional input into consideration as they craft the future of the building project.
5. The committee should be empowered to make budget decisions.
Most organizations require that money-related decisions go through the proper channels. This typically includes the Board of Directors, the CFO, or the president of the organization. However, these people are not always readily available.
The reality is that no set of construction documents is perfect, no contractor is perfect, and not all needs are foreseen prior to bidding and construction. There will be change orders as well as unforeseen items that happen along the way. This is usually nobody’s fault. When this happens, decisions will need to be made…often in a relatively short period of time.
Granting the committee the power to make certain budget-related decisions can ensure that the construction process is smooth and has as few delays as possible.
With these 5 tips for forming a building committee in mind, we pray you are equipped to form a committee that meets your organizational needs.
If you have further questions please do not hesitate to contact our team in Facility Solutions!